Walk­ing to show grat­i­tude

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - FRONT PAGE - ERIN TASKER

Just months af­ter learn­ing to walk again, Louise Turner is set to walk 5km to raise money for the or­gan­i­sa­tion that has given her the best chance at life.

Turner, 23, suf­fered a brain in­jury when she fell off a horse on her fam­ily’s Ir­well prop­erty on Jan­uary 14; a fall which led to four weeks in in­ten­sive care, three weeks in Christchurch Hospi­tal’s neu­rol­ogy ward, and al­most four months in re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion with the Laura Fer­gus­son Trust.

There she learned how to walk, talk, swal­low, and even go out to a cafe again.

The chal­lenges con­tin­ued when she was dis­charged with a com­mu­nity re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pack­age from the Trust’s com­mu­nity re­hab team, In­sight. At home, she had to learn how to deal with fa­tigue and reg­u­lar falls, and work out how to get back to life as she knew it.

Turner said it was like some­one had pressed pause on her life.

She had one pa­per left of an ar­chi­tec­tural tech­nol­ogy qual­i­fi­ca­tion at Ara, and had not long re­turned from a stint groom­ing for her aunt – New Zealand eques­trian Olympian Caro­line Pow­ell – at the Burleigh Horse Tri­als in the UK.

But in the blink of an eye, ev­ery­thing changed.

Horses had al­ways been a a big part of her life. A high-level even­ter her­self, Turner rode every day, and every time she got on her horse she wore a hel­met – some­thing which likely saved her life on Jan­uary 14.

She doesn’t re­mem­ber much about the ac­tual ac­ci­dent, or the months be­fore it, but par­ents Jenny and Richard Turner do. They saw the horse slip, and said the ac­tual fall didn’t look too bad but then their daugh­ter didn’t get up again.

‘‘My horse just fell over and I hit the ground a bit too hard and I didn’t wake up prop­erly for a month,’’ Turner said.

‘‘I think that part was prob­a­bly more scary for my par­ents and my fam­ily.’’

Turner suf­fered a trau­matic brain in­jury – like the adult equiv­a­lent of shaken baby syn­drome – and had two brain bleeds as well as break­ing her clav­i­cle.

The West­pac Res­cue He­li­copter flew her to Christchurch Hospi­tal and she was in A&E within an hour of the ac­ci­dent oc­cur­ring, and in ICU within two hours. That quick re­sponse gave her the best chance at re­cov­ery, and Turner and her fam­ily are for­ever grate­ful.

That’s why she’s de­cided to give back, by en­ter­ing the 5km event at this week­end’s Sel­wyn Run­ning Fes­ti­val. She’s set up a Give a Lit­tle page where peo­ple can spon­sor her, with money raised go­ing to the West­pac Res­cue He­li­copter.

Be­fore her ac­ci­dent, 5km wasn’t a huge chal­lenge but now it’s mas­sive. She’ll have two of her best friends by her side and she just wants to fin­ish. She man­aged to walk 5km for the first time since her ac­ci­dent last Thurs­day, and planned to do another two 5km walks be­fore race day.

She said the sup­port from her fam­ily, friends and those who came to her res­cue and helped in her re­cov­ery has been in­cred­i­ble.

Turner said she’s for­ever grate­ful.

‘‘It’s been hard, see­ing how it im­pacts on ev­ery­one else, be­cause I just used to do my own life and tried not to bother any­one else. So that’s prob­a­bly been one of the most dif­fi­cult things,’’ she said.

It’d been a frus­trat­ing jour­ney, and the road ahead is still long; she still re­quires daily ther­apy, but Turner’s a goal-set­ter and her goals are pinned to her bed­room wall as a daily re­minder of where she’s go­ing.

Her mum said she’s al­ways been a fo­cused, pos­i­tive, in­de­pen­dent per­son.

‘‘And I’m sure all those things have made a big dif­fer­ence,’’ Jenny Turner said.


Louise Turner is pre­par­ing to walk 5km to raise money for the West­pac Res­cue He­li­copter, just months af­ter hav­ing to learn how to walk again.

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